But Hillary is going over the top in honoring Muslim contributions to 'science and innovation'
I am delighted to send greetings to each of you at this year’s “1001Inventions,” celebrating a millennium of science and innovation in the Muslim world.
This exhibition honors the remarkable accomplishments of Muslims throughout history: from a woman who founded a university in the 9th century – to a 13th century inventor and mechanical engineer – to a surgeon whose writings influenced European medicine for hundreds of years.
And, of course, we’re seeing the impact of technology in the Muslim world right now – as young people throughout the Middle East and North Africa find new ways to use social networking to get organized and express their aspirations.
Connection technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity – a platform through which everyone from farmers to students to entrepreneurs can exchange ideas and hatch plans for the world’s next great invention.
But technology does not decide the future – people do. As this exhibition shows, the Muslim world has a proud history of innovators. Now is the time to tap into that legacy, to harness the power of science and technology, and to create new pathways to prosperity.
This is an exciting day. Thank you for letting me share it with you.
Focusing on the Arab contribution of Muslim advancements, Raphael Patai, in The Arab Mind, puts this contribution into its proper perspective, pointing out the Muslim world's
own golden age in which a few educated individuals reached unsurpassed heights in the midst of an almost totally illiterate population...in the past the knowledge of reading and writing was a specialized skill in the Arab world much like being a swordsmith or a brassworker (p.307)That fact lays the groundwork for a more accurate perspective of Muslim contributions, as pointed out by Bernard Lewis in his book, The Arabs in History:
The use of the adjective Arab to describe facets of this civilization has often been challenged on the grounds that the contribution to "Arab medicine", Arab philosophy", etc. of those who were of Arab descent was relatively small. Even the use of the word Muslim is criticised, since so many of the architects of this culture were Christians and Jews. (p.14)This background supports Robert Spencer in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and The Crusades), where he gives more specifics:
As the Arab kingdom was transformed into a cosmopolitan Islamic Empire, it came to denote--in external rather than in internal usage--the variegated culture of that Empire, produced by men of many races and religions, but in the Arabic language and conditioned by Arab taste and tradition. (p.17)
During the periods of greatness of the Arab and Islamic Empires in the Dear and Middle East a flourishing civilisation grew up that is usually known as Arabic. It was not brought ready-made by the Arab invaders from the desert, but was created after the conquests by the collaboration of many peoples, Arabs, Persians, Egyptians and others. Nor was it even purely Muslim, for many Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians were among its creators. (p.131)
The astrolabe was developed, if not perfected, long before Muhammad was born. Avicenna (980-1037), Averroes (1128-1198), and other Muslim philosophers built on the work of the pagan Greek Aristotle. And Christians preserved Aristotle's work from the ravages of the Dark Ages such as the fifth-century priest Probus of Antioch, who introduced Aristotle to the Arabic-speaking world. The Christian Huneyn ibn Ishaq (809-873) translated many works by Aristotle, Galen, Plato, and Hippocrates into Syriac, which his son then translated into Arabic. The Jacobite (Syrian) Christian Yahya ibn 'Adi (892-974) also translated works of philosophy into Arabic and wrote his own; his treatise The Reformation of Morals has occasionally been erroneously attributed to several of his Muslim contemporaries. His student, a Christian named Abu 'Ali 'Isa ibn Zur'a (943-1008), also made Arabic translations of Aristotle and other Greek writers from Syriac. The first Arabic-language medical treatise was written by a Christian priest and translated into Arabic by a Jewish doctor in 683. The first hospital in Baghdad during the heyday of the Abbasid caliphate was built by a Nestorian Christian, Jabrail ibn Bakhtishu. Assyrian Christians founded a pioneering medical school at Gundeshapur in Persia. The world's first university may not have been the Muslims' Al-Azhar in Cairo, as is often claimed but the Assyrian School of Nisibis.Spencer is quick to point out:
There is no shame in any of this., No culture exists in a vacuum Every culture builds on the achievements of other cultures and borrows from those with which it is in contact. But the historical record simply doesn't support the idea that Islam inspired a culture that outstripped others. There was a time when Islamic culture was more advanced than that of Europenas, but that superiority corresponds exactly to the period when Muslims were able to draw on and advance the achievements of Byzantine and other civilizations.Goitein, in Jews and Arabs, is more blunt:
The hundred years' war of Muhammadan conquests were a great catastrophe for the countries affected. Millions of people were reduced to slavery and dragged from one part of the world to another. However, this great mixing of classes and races had also the beneficial effect that fresh minds wre prepared for the new Arabic-speaking civilization of the Middle East. Thus, of the two leading figures of early Iraqian asceticism mentioned above, the first Hasan Basri, was the son of a captive, who followed his master to Medina from Maisan in southern Bablyonia, while Malik ibn Dinar's father was made a slave in Kabul in far-away Afghanistan. (p. 151)Bottom line, we should thank Clinton, for this outreach to the Muslim world, since by honoring Muslim contributions, she is actually honoring the various cultures and peoples around the world--subjugated by Muslim conquests and occupations--without which Muslim contributions would never have been possible.
Note: I like this line by Clinton--
Connection technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity – a platform through which everyone from farmers to students to entrepreneurs can exchange ideas and hatch plans for the world’s next great invention."Hatch plans" indeed--like plans for a '3rd Intifada' to destroy Israel?
And Wael Ghonim--the man most responsible for the use of that technology of social networking that made the protests in Egypt possible, was snubbed by the Muslim Brotherhood and prevented from speaking.
And that much vaunted social networking has been used by Iran to help Syria crack down on protesters:
The influx of Iranian manpower is adding to a steady stream of aid from Tehran that includes not only weapons and riot gear but also sophisticated surveillance equipment helping Syrian authorities track down opponents through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, the sources said. Iranian-assisted computer surveillance is believed to have led to the arrests of hundreds of Syrians in recent weeks.Amazing the uses the Muslim world has found for social networking, isn't it?
Technorati Tag: Islam and Muslims.